Archive for the ‘ Dailies ’ Category

3/15 Cubs trim 18 from camp

The Cubs sent 18 players to the Minor League camp on Tuesday to reduce the spring roster to 40. Pitchers Robert Coello and Thomas Diamond were optioned to Triple-A Iowa, and pitchers Alberto Cabrera, Rafael Dolis and Kyle Smit were optioned to Double-A Tennessee.

Thirteen non-roster invitees also were assigned to Minor League camp, including pitchers Chris Carpenter, Jay Jackson, Trey McNutt and Scott Rice; catchers Steve Clevenger and Chris Robinson; infielders Bryan LaHair, Marquez Smith and Josh Vitters; and outfielders Jim Adduci, Brett Jackson, Lou Montanez and Brad Snyder.

— Carrie Muskat

3/14 Sorting things out

Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner will each get another chance Tuesday to convince manager Mike Quade they are best suited for the rotation. Wells and Cashner will start in the Cubs’ final split squad games, with Wells facing the Rockies at HoHoKam Park in Mesa and Cashner going to Phoenix to start against the Athletics.  The two right-handers are vying for the vacancies with Carlos Silva, Casey Coleman, Braden Looper, Todd Wellemeyer and James Russell.

“I’m not closer to nailing stuff down but of that mix, whether it’s bullpen, whether it’s fourth and fifth, I think a lot of guys have been better lately and that’s what we’re looking for,” Quade said Monday. “Until I have to make a decision, we’ll let this thing play out.”

Cashner will be an interesting call. Has he developed his secondary pitches enough to be considered a starter? Do the Cubs feel he needs more experience and would benefit from pitching at Triple-A Iowa? Or, if he’s not ready to start, do they keep his talented arm in the bullpen with the big league team?

“My sense is he has Major League value in whatever role,” Quade said. “It’s a tough call. He’s in a competition with other people. I don’t have an opinion on [whether he start in Minors] yet but we’ve got two weeks after the off day, so obviously at some point these are the kind of tough questions down the stretch that have to be answered.”

— Carrie Muskat

3/14 Cubs extra bases – UPDATED

The Cubs have 16 Cactus League games remaining, including split squads on Tuesday. A few odds and ends:

* Starlin Castro ranks third in the Cactus League with a .485 batting average. He went 6-for-6 Saturday and Sunday, and notched his first two-homer game Saturday against the Reds in Las Vegas. Castro said he had never hit two homers in one game, not in the Minors or youth baseball. Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster both rank among the Cactus League leaders. Big Z has a 1.38 ERA; Dempster 1.50 ERA.

* John Grabow had a good side session on Monday and if he passes all tests, will pitch in a game Thursday. Grabow has been sidelined with tightness in his left shoulder.

* Outfielder Brad Snyder has been limited because of a strained oblique, Augie Ojeda has back spasms, and Brett Jackson has a bruised shoulder. Of the group, Jackson could DH on Tuesday.

* Mike Quade wasn’t too worried about Carlos Marmol’s rough outing in Las Vegas on Saturday. The closer gave up two runs, two walks and one run. “Maybe he got Vegas’d — who knows?” Quade said.

* Bench coach Pat Listach was the acting manager for the split squad teams in Arizona when Quade traveled to Las Vegas over the weekend. Listach wouldn’t sit in Quade’s chair in the manager’s office post-game. “Not yet,” Quade quipped. “I told him that a few weeks ago.”

* Matt Camp is showing his versatility. He’s played four positions so far this spring.

* Randy Wells will face the Rockies and Andrew Cashner will start against the A’s on Tuesday in the last split squad games. This will be Wells’ third start and fourth game, and Cashner’s second start and fourth game. Wells has not given up an earned run in nine innings.

— Carrie Muskat

3/14 Cubs lineup vs Mariners

Kosuke Fukudome played 10 innings Sunday in Las Vegas and will be back in right field on Monday in Peoria, Ariz., when the Cubs play the Mariners. Matt Garza is starting and other pitchers slated to go include Sean Marshall, Justin Berg and Thomas Diamond. Here’s the lineup:

RF Fukudome
CF Johnson
2B Moore
LF Montanez
1B LaHair
3B Vitters
C Castillo
SS Barney
P Garza

— Carrie Muskat

3/11 Pena feeling good at plate

Carlos Pena doesn’t gauge his progress this spring by the numbers. He’s going by feel, and on Friday, he felt really good. He hit his first spring homer and first extra-base hit for the Cubs in a 4-3 win over the White Sox. Pena has averaged 36 homers over the last four seasons but last year, hit .196. He came into Friday’s game with two hits in 17 at-bats in Cactus League play. How was he dealing with the slow start?

“It all depends on the way I evaluate myself,” Pena said. “If I evaluate how many hits I get, then I could say I got off to a bad start. The way I’ve been evaluating myself is more on how I feel and if I’m tracking pitches well and making hard contact. I’ve done so over the past few weeks, not with the results I wanted, obviously, but I think as hitters, we have to be careful on how we evaluate ourselves.”

What’s important, Pena said, is to focus on the right things. He’s been working in the batting cage each day with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo on his approach.

“If you focus on the outcome sometimes,” Pena said, “you put together a pretty good at-bat, one pitch, you don’t hit it well, and then you are over-criticizing yourself and beating yourself up and it can be really detrimental for the next two weeks instead of building off good evaluation.

“I try to be careful with how I evaluate myself,” he said. “I wouldn’t consider it totally a bad start, but it’s been progressing the way I expected and hopefully I can carry this on through the end of Spring Training and into the season.”

— Carrie Muskat

3/11 How many home openers have you gone to?

Where were you on April 4, 1994? That’s the day Tuffy Rhodes led off the first inning of the Cubs home opener with a homer, connecting off Dwight Gooden, then hit another in the third, also off Gooden, and another blast leading off the fifth, again off Doc. That wasn’t enough, as the Mets topped the Cubs, 12-8, in the season opener.

How about April 4, 1989? In that home opener, Andre Dawson backed Rick Sutcliffe with a two-run homer in the fourth to lead the Cubs to a 5-4 victory over the Phillies.

Or, do you recall the April 9, 1982, game when Fergie Jenkins and Lee Smith combined on a six-hit shutout in a 5-0 victory over the Mets?

We’re looking for fans who have dutifully attended Cubs home openers several years in a row, and are willing to share some stories about how special Opening Day at Wrigley Field is. Send a note to, and include your name and email address and some details.

— Carrie Muskat

3/11 Fukudome family OK after quake

Kosuke Fukudome said he’s been in touch with his brother in Japan following the earthquake that struck on Friday and all is well. Fukudome hasn’t been able to communicate directly with his parents, but his brother told him they are OK, too. They do not live close to where the earthquake hit. Fukudome’s wife and son are already in Chicago. Interpreter Hiro Aoyama was able to make contact with his family as well, and everyone is fine following the 8.6 quake, which hit the east coast of Honshu.

— Carrie Muskat

3/11 Gaub, Caridad to Iowa

The Cubs made their first roster cuts on Friday and optioned lefty John Gaub and right-hander Esmailin Caridad to Triple-A Iowa. The spring roster is now at 58 players. Caridad had appeared in 3 2/3 innings over four games, and given up three hits, three runs and one walk while striking out one. Gaub, acquired in the Mark DeRosa deal in December 2008, had pitched in two games and given up five runs on three hits and four walks over 1 1/3 innings. Expect more roster moves after this weekend’s split squad games.

— Carrie Muskat

3/11 Cubs lineup vs White Sox

Going to Glendale, Ariz., for today’s game between the Cubs and White Sox? Ryan Dempser will start for the Cubs. Here’s the lineup:

2B Baker
SS Castro
CF Byrd
C Soto
RF Colvin
LF Soriano
1B Pena
DH Luis Montanez
3B Marquez Smith

— Carrie Muskat

3/10 Fans sign Santo flag at HoHoKam